O'Driscoll will make his first appearance of the summer in Saturday's clash with France at Aviva Stadium after recovering from a neck/shoulder injury.
The 32-year-old captain is joined in midfield by Gordon D'Arcy, who is in action for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery in May.
Paul O'Connell and Jamie Heaslip make their summer series full debuts while David Wallace, who had yet to feature, is named at openside.
And there was more good news when Stephen Ferris, their destructive back row, was passed fit for bench duty following a seven-month battle with a knee problem.
Having lost to Scotland and France already this summer, it is important that Ireland start building momentum to carry into the World Cup by winning the home leg against Les Bleus.
O'Driscoll, however, insists further defeats would not cause panic in the camp.
"Winning is important but isn't the be all and end all. It's also about getting game time and getting up to speed," he said.
"If we didn't win a warm-up game it wouldn't be ideal, but it's not the World Cup right now.
"The World Cup is in three weeks' time. Let's focus on getting the best possible performance.
"We're going into the game with the attitude of we really want to win this game, so let's see what happens.
"There's definitely an onus on trying to win the game but because some guys will be making their first start, it's essentially about playing your way into the season.
"We'll try to get the performance that will take care of the result.
"It's about making sure we have the right mentality for the weekend. Our intensity and physicality need to be right."
It was an encouraging team announcement from coach Declan Kidney, who will monitor the fitness of O'Driscoll, D'Arcy and Ferris closely.
The trio are key players when fit with the presence of D'Arcy and Ferris is particularly pleasing given they were considered doubts for the World Cup.
"The only injuries involving Stephen now are the people he's been bumping into," said Kidney.
O'Driscoll is ready to hurl himself into the fray at Lansdowne Road, though does not expect to hit his stride immediately.
"Although I haven't been able to do a huge amount of contact during this pre-season, I've put myself in a position to make sure I'm doing everything up to that contact point," he said.
"I've been working on things like footwork and being in the right place at ruck time.
"For me I like to be up to speed after three games, but I'll feel an awful lot better after getting 80 minutes under my belt this weekend."
Most of the team are short of match fitness to varying degrees, but it is close to Ireland's strongest XV.
With Rob Kearney ruled out for one week because of a groin strain, Felix Jones makes his first start at full-back.
Andrew Trimble, who has impressed over the last two weekends, retains his place on the right wing with Keith Earls taking the number 11 jersey.
What appears to be Kidney's first-choice half-pack pairing of Jonathan Sexton and Tomas O'Leary have been recalled after sitting out the 19-12 defeat by France last Saturday.
The front row of Cian Healy, Rory Best and Mike Ross is given another run-out after scrummaging well in Bordeaux.
Winger Tommy Bowe faces another week on the sidelines as he continues his recovery from a foot injury.
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